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A guest feature by Littlestone.
The Rudston Monolith
To quote Wikipedia, “The Rudston Monolith at over 7.6 metres (25 ft) is the tallest megalith (standing stone) in the United Kingdom. It is situated in the churchyard in the village of Rudston (grid reference TA098678) in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”
So, to mark this year’s St Valentine’s Day, Moss and I decided to make the 30 mile drive over from where we live in North Yorkshire to Rudston village to see for ourselves the ‘real thing’. Nothing quite prepares you for this ‘real thing’. Photos of the monolith we’d seen before but first sight, and first touch, of this towering Neolithic edifice left us both speechless. If there’s ever a stone that puts its neighbouring church into a shadow this is it. And the fact that it’s stood there for some 4,000 years makes it even more awe-inspiring. As ever, the similarity with other subsumed (Christianised) sites in Britain, seems the same. The Rudson Monolith stands close to a water source. A Roman villa once stood close by and there are Roman tiles in the church walls. There are also the remains of a Roman sarcophagus in the graveyard.
Outlier stone and the remains of a Roman sarcophagus behind it
Googling ‘Rudston Monolith’ will throw up all sorts of info but what intrigued me most, being actually there on site, was the smaller outlier stone in one corner of the graveyard. The stone is of the same composition as the monolith itself and evidently was once situated close to it. Could it be the missing top of the Rudsone Monolith? Did it fall away naturally or was it cut off because it offended past norms of acceptability? Who knows, but here’s an interesting comparison from Brittany in France.
Image credit The Times
We don’t often get involved with British political issues but when they sink to this level of gimmickry it really has hit rock bottom (pun intended) and something needs to be said. We refer to the Labour Party’s latest publicity stunt to win votes (election day in Britain is today) in the shape of an eight foot tall ‘megalith’ with six ‘promises’ from their party’s manifesto ‘engraved’ on its surface. Is the text actually engraved or has it been painted on? Or is it a transfer of some kind? If Labour wins the election however its leader Ed Miliband plans to erect the megalith in the garden of 10 Downing Street (assuming he’s able to get planning permission from Westminster City Council that is!).
The Urban Prehistorian sums up our own feelings on the Ed’stone gimmick perfectly when it writes –
Are we fooled by these megalithic metaphors of power and permanence? Do we accept that when a pledge is carved into rock by machine or chisel that it has more resonance and reliability than a promise spoken, a paper manifesto, a ministerial tweet? Would this infamous pre-referendum promise, printed in newspaper form just before the independence referendum in Scotland in September 2014, have really been any more trustworthy or powerful had it been carved on a tablet of stone?
No we are not fooled. Miliband’s promises are all very well and good but where is HERITAGE in all of this? In fact where is Heritage in any of the five or six main political party’s pledges? As a country we have not even ratified the Hague Convention to protect cultural property in time of war. Shame on our politicians for not doing so, and shame on the megalithic gimmickry this election campaign has sunk to.
The 5,000 year-old Poulnabrone dolmen, Burren, County Clare, Ireland
Source Wikipedia. Image credit Kglavin
Ashleigh Murszewski, writing in The Heritage Daily at the end of last year, asks –
We don’t really know why megaliths were arranged in a certain way but it seems likely that one reason had something to do with an interest in astronomy; another reason perhaps was to do with ceremony – a place were people gathered at certain times. As far as we know the rock gardens of the Far East have nothing to do with astronomical observations, nor were they places where large numbers of people gathered; they were used for quiet contemplation by individuals, or a place where a small group of individuals might gather for the same reason.
* Alan Booth. Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan. ISBN 1568361483.